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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 10, 2011

Democratic size-cappers and anti-frackers sweep New Scotland

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — Democrats who pledged to pass a cap on the size of retail stores in town and take a cautious approach to hydraulic fracturing swept into office on Tuesday night.

Republicans called those issues scare tactics and promised to challenge the incumbents in the next election, two years from now.

Patricia Snyder and William Hennessy, who ran on the Democratic line for town board, won both open four-year seats on the five-member board.  The seats were left empty by two Democrats, Deborah Baron and Richard Reilly, who did not get their party’s support after three contentious years dominated by debate over the future of commercial development in town.

Incumbent Democrat Thomas Dolin, who is supportive of a size cap, won a third two-year term as supervisor in an uncontested election.

After the results came in, each of the three winners said that the first priority for the new board would be passing legislation capping the size of allowable retail development.  The issue first came to light when Cazenovia-based Sphere Development proposed building a Target-anchored shopping center on the old Bender melon farm, which had been bought by a group of investors in the 1970s.

Citizens opposed to the development formed a group called New Scotlanders 4 Sound Economic Development, which pushed for a cap of 50,000 square feet on single stores and 100,000 square feet for shopping centers.  One of the founding members of the group, Daniel Mackay, won a seat on the town board in a hotly contested election two years ago.  He drafted a size-cap law that failed to pass after the owners of the Bender melon farm filed a protest petition that required at least four town board members to vote in favor of the bill — neither Baron nor Reilly voted in favor of it.

On Tuesday night after the Democrats had won, Mackay said of the size cap, “We have the votes and support to pass it.”  He attributed the outcome of the election to the public’s sustained interest in the issue of commercial development — all three candidates who won vocally supported a size cap.

The issue of commercial development was most commonly raised by citizens, Snyder said of what she and Hennessy found as they campaigned by going door to door.  Also, she said, they were frequently asked about their stance on hydraulic fracturing, which has become a major issue in the state’s Southern Tier and could affect this area.

“It’s the next big box for this town,” Timothy Stanton said of the hydraulic fracturing issue, referring to the lingering debate over commercial development sparked by the potential for Target.  Stanton, a farmer, lost his bid for a seat on the town board on the Republican line; he also lost in the race for town board two years ago.  He got 19 percent of the vote on Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the county’s board of elections.  His running mate, Timothy Danz, who is vice president of Family Danz Heating and Air Conditioning, made his first run for office this year, got 20 percent.  Snyder, a credit analyst, took 31 percent and Hennessy, an engineer, won 30 percent, according to the board of elections.

“In two years, I’ll be running against Doug Lagrange and Dan Mackay for their positions,” said Danz, referring to the two town board members who will be up for re-election.

“I won’t rule it out,” Stanton said when asked yesterday if he’d make another run.  “I may run again.”

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